Pappa al pomodoro


Pappa al pomodoro

Ingredients:

  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound loaf of stale bread, sliced (or unseasoned stuffing mix)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced, only white part
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bunch basil
  • Salt
  • Chili pepper

Pappa al pomodoro, a Tuscan bread-and-tomato porridge, sounds like kid's food, and it is - for kids of all ages. In the past it was also very much a homey dish, a tasty summer way to use up leftover bread that no housewife would have dreamed of serving to a guest. Now it's on the menus of Florence's trendier restaurants.

Serves 8 - 10

Ingredients:

  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound loaf of stale bread, sliced (or unseasoned stuffing mix)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced, only white part
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bunch basil
  • Salt
  • Chili pepper

Preparation:

The night before slice the bread and leave it out to get stale.
(This does happen in Tuscany with our unsalted bread.) You can force the drying in a warm oven.

Sauté the whole garlic cloves and leek in olive oil with the chili pepper. When the garlic has lightly browned and the leek is just getting golden, add the tomato sauce. Season with salt. Add half the basil leaves torn into tiny pieces. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon and stir. Cook until the tomatoes fall apart.

Tear the bread into small pieces and put into the sauce. The bread will soak up the sauce and get quite thick. Add enough water to soften the bread and to make it liquidy. Add the remaining basil and cook until the bread becomes a "mush": PAPPA!
Enjoy this thick stew-like soup on a cold day with a drizzle of extra virgin oil on top. I like to reheat it the next day by sauteing some sliced garlic and more chili in oil and then reheating. This gives it an extra kick!

This traditional Tuscan soup is robust enough for red wine, but its summery flavors taste particularly good with rosato (rosé), especially ones made from Sangiovese; the wine’s cherry-berry fruit seems to intensify the already sweet flavors of end-of-season tomatoes. One of the best Tuscan rosatos comes from Castello di Ama, the noted Chianti producer; the 2006 is especially fresh and lively.

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